03
Jan
PR-ASUS-Eee-Pad-Transformer-Prime-front-Amethyst-Gray_thumb1

Well, that didn't take long, did it? Just one short day after news hit the web that the Transformer Prime's bootloader is encrypted and locked, ASUS has issued a statement on its Facebook page regarding the matter, and it's definitely a step in the direction that the modding community was hoping for. Here's the meat and potatoes of it:

Regarding the bootloader, the reason we chose to lock it is due to content providers' requirement for DRM client devices to be as secure as possible. ASUS supports Google DRM in order to provide users with a high quality video rental experience. Also, based on our experience, users who choose to root their devices risk breaking the system completely. However, we know there is demand in the modding community to have an unlocked bootloader. Therefore, ASUS is developing an unlock tool for that community. Please do note that if you choose to unlock your device, the ASUS warranty will be void, and Google video rental will also be unavailable because the device will be no longer protected by security mechanism.

This is definitely good news for anyone looking to mod the Prime, but, moreover, it further proves that there is strength in numbers - the community spoke (loudly) and ASUS listened.

The post also addressed the recent GPS issue, but many users won't be feeling as happy with what was said about that:

The ASUS Transformer Prime is made from a metallic unibody design, so the material may affect the performance of the GPS when receiving signals from satellites. Please note that this product is not a professional GPS device, and signal performance can be easily influenced by factors including, but not limited to: weather, buildings, and surrounding environments. Please understand there are limitations when using the GPS function. To avoid inconveniencing users who demand a powerful GPS device, we made the decision to remove it from our specification sheet and marketing communications. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

So, in a nutshell, someone didn't think the design through completely; thus, GPS is now a non-feature of the Prime. Not the best news that we've heard, but at least they were willing to admit the mistake.

Ready for one more turn on this roller coaster? ASUS also dropped the ICS bomb that many Prime owners have been waiting on - the release date. Looks like the OTA is all set to begin rolling out on January 12, making this the first tablet to bring Android 4.0 to the masses.

All-in-all, I would say this is some pretty good news for all the Prime owners (or potential owners) out there, especially if you don't plan on relying on the device's GPS to do, well... anything.

Congratulations to all who fought this fight in the name of openness - thanks to you, the entire community wins. To read ASUS' full post on the matter, hit up its Facebook page.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Mark

    If jail-breaking an iPad does not void the warranty on the hardware (as I understand it), how does unlocking the boot loader legally violate the warranty on the Prime? It is your hardware to do with as you will and Android is open source. The boot loader is not supposed to be encrypted. Encryption is supposed to happen on the application and user level, not the OS level.

    Am I missing a piece?

    • David Ruddock

      Because the contract, that is your warranty, says that modifying the device (this includes lower-level software modification, eg bootloader lock) in any way voids the warranty. Not much else to it.

      • Mark

        Still, that is not legal to do for Apple. If I have dead pixels on the screen, for example, the software has nothing to do with that.

        • David Ruddock

          Er, I'm not sure you're understanding the whole "it's legal to jailbreak an iPhone" news that came out last year. Apple can't pursue legal action AGAINST you for jailbreaking. That was what the Library of Congress said. That's it.

          Apple can still void your warranty for software unlocking, regardless of what the defect on your device is - you'll have to cite me a source saying otherwise.

    • Steve McCartney

      Jailbreaking does void the warranty of an iPad. The ruling you may be thinking of simply clarified it was legal to jailbreak. That does not mean the warranty has to stay intact. It is legal for me to swap out any bits and pieces of a computer if I wish but my warranty will be void.
      Although nothing physical is changing with an iPad or the Prime the principle is the same - by jailbreaking or rooting you are modifying it and therefore lose the warranty.
      Of course I am sure it will be fairly straightforward to restore to factory settings and claim warranty if needed.

      • Will

        HTCs bootloader unlock requires the device identity token to be entered into a website and leaves a permanent record in the device that the bootloader has been unlocked.

        If ASUS implement something similar I wouldn't bank on it being easy to claim warranty if you use their unlock tool, the chances are that they will *know* you have unlocked it, no matter how hard you try to restore it to factory defaults.

        • Steve McCartney

          Ah - I wasn't aware of that. Good to know. Can certainly see Asus doing something similar and I suppose it would make sense for them.

    • http://teamw.in ViViDboarder

      It can depend on the terms specific to the warranty. There are some laws in the USA that protect users from being limited to products provided exclusively by the OEM. In this the event that a user changes a portion of their product, that portion is no longer under warranty. Like if you bought a Mac and put in a new Seagate HDD, Apple doesn't have to fix your Seagate, but if your display breaks they have to fix that. They may, however, require stock software to be loaded before any service is performed for diagnostics (HP requires this apparently. If you have Linux installed on your HP box I guess you have to re-install Windows for diagnostics).

      • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

        Also, in many cases, they have valid reasons to void your warranty. Let's say you root and overclock your Prime. After 2 months of running the CPU at a higher speed, you may cause long term damage to the CPU without knowing it. 2 months later, you finally decided to reduce the CPU speed back to normal. Fast forward to 6 months later, the CPU's problem finally shows up. Now, the manufacturer has every right to decline your warranty claim because they've never promised you the Prime can be run at a higher speed.

        So, we can fight for our right to use the device we purchase the way we want, but the maker has the right to decline our warranty claim after we modify it. It's a fair game.

  • tekrhino

    As far as "Breaking" the device goes, you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet!

    Thank you Asus for hearing our call to openness!

  • Spydie

    I think Asus is just trying to cover their asses by telling us it breaks the warranty. The government and courts have already said it doesn't affect the warranty and they'll still have to stand behind it... we need a test case first... anyone? So since they've removed the GPS from the specs, did they actually remove the GPS chip? I wonder if anyone in the community will figure out how to get inside it and tap into the antenna and run it outside the body?

    • tekrhino

      That's a good question, will future shipments of the Prime be sans the GPS chip?

    • Zomby2D

      AFAIK, they haven't removed the GPS anywhere but on the spec sheet. It'll still be present on the device, just not advertised anymore since the reception isn't up to what some customers where expecting.

  • Carwyn Stephen

    Asus has definitely moved up on my favourite phone manufacturer list :D really tempted to get a prime now

    • Dandmcd

      You'll love it, I have had it for a few weeks now, sans the dock, and it performs extremely well, and is a lot of fun to use. The camera and GPS fixes took care of the only bugs I have had with it.

  • Samcobra

    You can always just flash a stock rom and unroot and "restore" your warranty that never actually was voided in the first place.

  • kevin

    Why are we applauding this? Its great that manufacturers still do listen to the consumers but it should have never been locked to begin with imo.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ScottColbert Scott

    With the incessant whining from people about the locked bootlader, I can only imagine what could be done on issues that really matter (say stopping SOPA), than this nonsense.

    • Mark

      This isn't nonsense. It is mostly useless if it has a locked bootloader. You certainly could never really use it in the enterprise, for example.

      Now if you consider it simply a toy and won't actually make use of its capabilities, I can understand your point of view.

      This will actually cost them a sale on my end. I need an unlocked bootloader, but I am not willing to be out the warranty on a device north of $500. They might be the first T3 on the market, but they won't be the last. Hopefully the rest of the market will pay attention.

      • Will

        Oh dear, tantrum much?

        You can't have your cake and eat it you know.

        • Mark

          Which is what ASUS wants here. They want to take advantage of open source, but don't want to follow the rules for it.

          That is having your cake and eating it too.

      • Zomby2D

        Even without an unlocked bootloader, other manufacturers do the same thing. Flash any custom ROM on a Samsung phone and your warranty's out.

    • Drewskeetz

      COMPLETELY AGREE. Im sure theres plenty who have no clue what SOPA is and I advise that we all sign a petition to the gov. and let them know what we think about it. Until then lets argue over GPS on a tablet =P

  • boothy

    12th seems to be the day the prime is launched in the UK (Amazon anyway- a customer did say that they have already received from PC world) - wonder if ICS will be already `in the box`?

  • KBanause

    ICS on the Prime on 12/01/2012? And still no release date for Germany :(

    But maybe I will get it with ICS pre-installed...

  • Ribbys

    This was a reasonable response by ASUS.

    Also, it is reasonable for there to be a locked bootloader given the expansion of video rental services etc.

    Modders can always find a way around it usually.

    • dalingrin

      I don't find it reasonable. Because I want to boot Ubuntu/Arch Linux in addition to Android, I can now no longer rent movies?

      When I install Fedora on my laptop does Netflix or Amazon videos stop working in Windows?

      Why are people accepting this nonsense? Now that a legitimate way for me to rent movies has been taken away from me, I guess I'll just pirate instead....

      • tekrhino

        I believe there is a fix floating around XDA that allows rooted devices to access movie rentals from the market. Not sure if it's been kept with though..

      • Ribbys

        Your last sentance is why I accept this.

        The only way iTunes and Google even have movies is DRM. Music labels got a clue and are making money now.

        I dont have any where to rent Blu-rays easily anymore. Guess what I do.

  • miztrniceguy

    Any word on ICS for non-Prime Transformers?

  • SYO

    Whew. This makes me no longer regret my purchase. Respect for ASUS restored!

    Btw, if you're in the US, BJ's has them in stock. I ordered a 32GB champagne gold one on the 31st and now got the shipping notification. :)

  • einc70

    It was a fight against closeness not the brand. Nuance!